Tag Archives: 03-25-2020

COVID-19 snowballs, AMI beaches closed

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The Manatee Public Beach is busy with clustered families and groups March 19 up and down the beach, but an announced government closure the next day, March 20, resulted in the quiet beach pictured below. islander Photos: courtesy HBPd chief Bill tokajer
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a series of executive orders to deal with the spread of COVID-19, the new coronavirus, the week of March 16. Islander Photo: Courtesy Florida Governor’s Office
The parking lot at the Manatee Public Beach is barricaded and posted March 20: “Beach Closed.” Islander Photo: Bonner Joy
Manatee County code enforcement officers assemble about 5:30 a.m. March 20 in the Publix Super Market parking lot in Holmes Beach. The officers were to assist in monitoring the public beaches, as a closure went into effect at 6 a.m. that day. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

The local fight against the spread of COVID-19 has ratcheted up to meet the crisis.

The cities of Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach, as well as Manatee County, declared states of emergency March 16-17, granting the local governments additional powers to enact measures to mitigate the pandemic — and to seek aid in the post-pandemic phase, when it comes.

The state emergency was declared March 9.

The declarations come as confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Florida continued to skyrocket. There were 1,007 confirmed cases across the state as of March 23 — up from 136 on March 16 — including 13 Manatee County cases, according to the Florida Department of Health.

After spending the previous week installing hand sanitizer in public buildings to counter the virus’ spread, the municipalities began applying emergency powers to restrict access the week of March 16.

While government operations continued, all three island cities closed buildings to the public. City staff posted closure notices at the entrances, asking people to contact them by phone, email, fax or by visiting their websites.

The cities also canceled nonessential meetings and made plans to conduct virtual meetings to prevent the potential spread of the virus among officials and staff.

An Anna Maria Commission meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 26, will be conducted via conference call. People can listen in by calling 1-571-317-3112 and using the access code 707-522-589.

Such meetings normally would violate the Florida Sunshine Law, which guarantees open meetings, however, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gave an executive order March 20 to temporarily suspend state statutes requiring a physical quorum for a governing body to meet, as well as allowing municipalities to use communications technology to conduct virtual meetings.

DeSantis also ordered the closure of gyms and fitness centers and suspended all restaurant dining room service and alcohol consumption.

Manatee County’s decision to close beaches to the general public March 20 until further notice was another measure to mitigate the virus’ spread.

Parking for the beaches, including Coquina Beach, Cortez Beach and Manatee Beach, was blocked by barricades and notices.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies and county code enforcement officers were stationed along the beaches and at access roads to educate people and encourage social distancing.

County lifeguards also remained at Coquina and Manatee beaches 9 a.m.-5 p.m. to ensure safety. Double red flags indicating a no-swim order were posted at lifeguard stands.

Manatee County information outreach manager Nicholas Azzara, during a March 20 news conference, said despite the increased presence of officers on the beaches, the closures were intended to be self-policed.

“We are relying on our residents and visitors to make a good-faith effort in heeding those warnings,” Azzara said. “There should be no mixed messages: We’re asking people to avoid the beaches.”

Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells said, “We are not out there trying to incarcerate people for being on the beach. We are asking for voluntary compliance.”

Wells added — to quell rumors he’d seen on social media — there were no plans to enact martial law and lock down or force residents to stay in their homes.


Local reaction

According to an official message posted on Anna Maria’s website, www.cityofannamaria.com, “although our beaches remain closed to the general public, they are open to residents and their guests while practicing safe social distancing.”

Another message on the website cautioned people against visiting the city during the pandemic, noting the beach closures and restaurant limitations.

Bradenton Beach Police Lt. John Cosby said the parking closures were intended to reduce the number of tourists and other visitors accessing the beaches — not to prevent residents from enjoying the beach on private property.

Cosby said the police department planned to pay overtime to maintain a heightened presence.

“We’re going to get to the point where people start going stir-crazy,” he said. “So we want to make sure we have enough people on duty to handle something if it comes up.”

Cosby added there were no plans to limit access to the island. He said there were discussions about setting up a checkpoint and monitoring people entering the island, but some officials from the island cities and Longboat Key opposed the idea.

Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie said the island mayors were communicating daily with each other and the county to coordinate a unified response against the virus.

“We’re all in this together, and we’re going to get through it,” Chappie said. “We are a strong nation and a strong community.”

#AMItogether. #AloneTogether.


Reduce risk of infection by:

  • Washing hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizer;
  • Covering nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or elbow;
  • Avoid close contact with people.

For more information on coronavirus in Florida, visit the health department’s COVID-19 webpage at www.floridahealth.gov/covid-19.

If you suspect you may have COVID-19, call 941-242-6649 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday or email covid-19@flhealth.gov.

Island churches provide community aid, hope

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Roser Church’s chapel, 512 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, is open March 18 for public prayer — with sanitizer stationed near the entrance. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff
A sign outside Roser Memorial Community Church, 512 Pine Ave., March 18 encourages worshippers to use live streaming options to watch Sunday services. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

Houses of worship on Anna Maria Island are delivering messages of “faith over fear” in the face of COVID-19.

Congregation doors are temporarily closed, but island churches are holding services online and reaching out to meet community needs.

The Rev. Ed Moss of CrossPointe Fellowship said younger members of his congregation are stepping up to help people who are quarantined while striving to follow U.S. safety guidelines.

“We’ve got some folks in the church that are more compromised,” he said. “We want to protect them to the hilt, but also give them what they need. Even if that is just someone to talk to.”

Now is a time for the church to be of service to all members of the community, Moss said.

“This is not a time for vacation,” he said. “We see this as a time to grow in our knowledge of God, our love for each other and our serving of the community with no strings attached.”

Moss was reaching out to anyone who needed help to call or email him — and even posted an ad in The Islander — for readers who may need help with food delivery or putting out the garbage. He and his volunteers were ready to serve.

“This is a whole new ballgame,” the Rev. Doug Kings of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Holmes Beach said March 18 of establishing livestreaming services. “We were going to do it at some point, but now the need has arisen.”

Kings said the church planned to have services live on its Facebook page and YouTube by the week of March 23.

CrossPointe Fellowship, the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation and St. Bernard Catholic Church, all in Holmes Beach, and Roser Memorial Community Church in Anna Maria also were livestreaming services, as well as other online programming through their websites.

Roser, 512 Pine Ave., planned to keep its chapel open for worship, according to the Rev. Dr. Bob O’Keef. He said March 19 that the building was being sanitized several times each day to keep it available to worshippers.

“It’s amazing how many people come in and use it every day,” O’Keef, the senior pastor, said. “People really appreciate that we have left it open.”

O’Keef also said the Roser Food Pantry would remain operational.

“We have had an amazing amount of food come in as visitors are leaving the island,” he said. “We are blessed to have plenty of food to share with those that might need the help right now.”

Churches also continued to provide services to members homebound before the spread of COVID-19, as well as those self-isolating.

“If anyone out there needs assistance, we have ministers that can shop and provide them with what they need,” Matthew Nowicki, director of family faith formation at St. Bernard, said March 18. “We should take this to heart as a time for charity toward others.”

O’Keef shared a similar sentiment.

“It’s ironic that we’re called upon to be a church in a time when we can’t gather and provide fellowship,” he said. “But we are trying to be the light in the midst of the darkness so that we can continue to be people of faith instead of people of fear.”

COVID-19 closings and cancellations on Anna Maria Island

The following is a list of closings and cancellations on the island or nearby:


• Island Players season. CANCELED
• CrossPointe Fellowship services and programs. CANCELED
• Gloria Dei Lutheran Church services, programming, activities. CANCELED
• Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island golf tournament. CANCELED
• Kiwanis Club of Anna Maria Island meetings. CANCELED
• Kiwanis Club of Anna Maria Island Easter Sunrise Service, April 12. CANCELED
• Senior Adventures activities. CANCELED
• Anna Maria Tuesday Farmers’ Markets. CANCELED
• Keep Manatee Beautiful Earth Day celebration. CANCELED
• Keep Manatee Beautiful Great American Cleanup. CANCELED
• School District of Manatee County classes, including AME. CANCELED
• Major League Baseball spring training. CANCELED
• St. Bernard Catholic Church events, programs. CANCELED


• DeSoto Bottle Boat Regatta, April 11. POSTPONED
• Center of Anna Maria Island the Grass Roots concert, March 19. POSTPONED
• Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce Beach’N Food Truck and Music Festival, April 11. POSTPONED
• Anna Maria Island Privateers One Night in Tortuga, March 21. POSTPONED
• St. Patrick’s Day Parade, March 15. POSTPONED
• Anna Maria Island Privateers Thieves Market, March 14. POSTPONED


• Manatee County boat ramps. CLOSED
• Florida state parks. CLOSED
• Bradenton Beach City Hall lobby. CLOSED
• Anna Maria City Hall lobby. CLOSED
• Bradenton City Hall, public works, fire department buildings. CLOSED
• Holmes Beach City Hall. CLOSED
• Anna Maria Island Historical Society. CLOSED
• Bars and nightclubs. CLOSED
• Restaurant dining areas. CLOSED
• Manatee County libraries. CLOSED
• Manatee County government buildings. CLOSED
• Anna Maria Island Moose Lodge. CLOSED
• John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. CLOSED
• Mote Marine Aquarium. CLOSED
• Florida Maritime Museum. CLOSED
• Annie Silver Community Center. CLOSED
• Bishop Museum of Science and Nature. CLOSED
• Harvey Memorial Community Church. CLOSED
• Roser Memorial Community Church building. CLOSED
• Roser Church’s Thrift Store. CLOSED
• Center of Anna Maria Island. CLOSED


• Manatee County public beaches. CLOSED until further notice.
• Episcopal Church of the Annunciation operations. SUSPENDED

Editor’s note: Updated at 7 a.m. March 27.
Listings will be added. So please check back.
For the status of a certain business, please check with the business.
Also, please send notices of cancellations or closings to calendar@islander.org.




Spring break grinds to a halt, tourism promotions ‘stand down’

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People appear to maintain distance March 19 on the beach in Bradenton Beach. Islander Photo: Ryan Paice

Tourism on Anna Maria Island took a shot to the gut this past week.

And the weeks and month ahead will be challenging, according to most in the industry, as the focus shifted from high season to virus losses.

Manatee Public Beach in Holmes Beach and Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach were crowded March 16.

But, by week’s end, the public beaches — at least the public parking lots — were closed. People were allowed on the beaches on AMI as law enforcement maintained a presence to limit crowds and social distancing.

The closure followed Hillsborough and Pinellas orders and similar measures were coordinated with Sarasota, seeking to temper spring break celebrations.

Barbara Baker, general manager of Anna Maria Island Resorts, which manages Tortuga Beach Resort, 1325 Gulf Drive N. and Tradewinds Beach Resorts, 1603 Gulf Drive N., both in Bradenton Beach, said the company had “a large amount of cancellations” before the beach closings.

“We are dealing with them on a case-by-case basis,” Baker told The Islander March 19. “We are refunding some. Some we are putting on account. We have a lot of visitors who return every year and have already booked for 2021.”

Baker said the policy is fluid — changing almost “daily.”

“The one thing we are most concerned with is maintaining our excellent customer service we are known for,” she said.

Joe Varner, who owns the Anna Maria Island Beach Resort and Anna Maria Vacations, both in Holmes Beach, was upbeat about the spring tourist season March 4, telling The Islander he expected 98% occupancy in April.

By March 18, Varner’s outlook had dimmed.

“I’ve lost a ton of bookings. But I’m afraid the solution will end up being far worse than the problem,” Varner said.

Traditionally, March and April are the busiest months for tourism, as well as tourist tax collections in the county.

In March 2019, $1,769,296.72 was collected on short-term rentals of 6 months or less.

April 2019 brought $2,644,057.95 into the coffers.

But with closures and cancellations, the 2020 numbers are likely to plummet.

Elliott Falcione, executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the organization was relying on “best practices” and had suspended its advertising campaign.

“We have paused all of our marketing efforts with the exception of organic social media posts for information or uplifting content,” he said.

Falcione also said the BACVB, which operates as an agency of the Manatee County Tourist Development Council, must follow the advice of public health officials “and do our part to protect all members of the community.”

During a Manatee County news conference March 20, Falcione said, “We are taking this one day at a time. We are standing down until further notice.”

Community center ‘ceases all operations’

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Children write and color March 18 while attending the Center of Anna Maria Island’s all-day camp. The center suspended some programs but not the camp, however, the announcement to close came March 21. Islander Photo: Ashley Friszman

COVID-19 forced a hard decision for leaders of the community center in Anna Maria.

Chris Culhane, executive director of the Center of Anna Maria Island, wrote in a March 17 community letter that the nonprofit suspended fitness, sports and wellness programs until further notice.

The nonprofit continued last week to run a camp for youth on spring break and kept the facility at 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria, open “in a very limited capacity,” according to Culhane.

That changed March 20, when the governor issued further restrictions on interactions and ordered the closure of fitness centers and gyms.

The center announced it would close in an email to members.

“This unprecedented order ceases all operations at the center effective immediately,” Culhane wrote March 20. “For the first time in our 60 years of existence, the center and our staff are not able to serve the community that we love. The center staff, management and board are heartbroken.”

He also wrote, “As the Center responds to our community’s needs during this unprecedented time, we ask that you retain your membership with us. Not as a facility member, but as a cause-driven member.”

The closure dims hope the nonprofit would pull out of the red before its fiscal year ends June 30.

The center lost $103,517 in income July 2019-January 2020, but board members and staff hoped to carry the momentum of a successful winter into spring. The nonprofit planned to profit $18,000 in March before canceling the annual Tour of Homes and postponing a rock ’n’ roll concert.

However, Culhane wrote March 19 in an email to The Islander that he expects a large donation soon, so the nonprofit may end the month in the black.

Regardless of the financial result, money took the backseat during a pandemic.

“We are committed to working safely and confidently as we move through and emerge from this health crisis together,” Culhane wrote.

People interested in contacting the center can visit its website, www.centerami.org.

Businesses shift plans in virus crisis, all dining rooms close

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The Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe at the Manatee Public Beach opened behind closed gates March 20, but the restaurant closed layer that day. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy

The situation was fluid all week, like Drano, for some island businesses.

Owners, managers and operators at retail stores and restaurants were kept busy adjusting daily to changing guidelines and mandates to curb the spread of COVID-19, but still meet customer’s needs and maintain business and staff income.

To curb the spread of the disease, the governor first ordered restaurants to serve customers at 50% building occupancy, with 6 feet between patrons, while at the same time ordering bars and nightclubs to shutter for 30 days. Events and gatherings were restricted to 50, then 10 people.

March 20, Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered restaurants across the state to cease dine-in service.

A Manatee County declaration closed the island’s public beaches until further notice on March 20.

“This is not a step that we take lightly,” county administrator Cheri Coryea said in a news release. “But it is a step in the public’s best interest.”

The news release said enforcement of the closure would be left to the island communities, but public parking lots were closed to diminish crowds

The news release also stated the Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe at Manatee Public Beach and the Coquina Beach Cafe would close.

Tanner Enoch, who manages both cafes, told The Islander March 21 that he tried to keep the cafes open and operate at 50%, but closed on the governor’s order to cease serving in dining rooms.

Other island eateries also were adjusting their plans.

Judy Owens owns and operates Cupcake Delights at the Anna Maria Island Centre shopping plaza at 3324 E. Bay Drive, Holmes Beach. She had already replaced in-house service with carryout, with orders delivered by request to the curb to customers in their cars. Peach’s Restaurant in the same plaza at 3240 E. Bay Drive closed indefinitely, while Paradise Cafe and Bagels at 3210 E. Bay Drive in the plaza was offering takeout.

Likewise, Hurricane Hanks, 5346 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, began promoting carryout and delivery at the restaurant and its liquor store.

At Minnie’s Beach Cafe, 5300 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, owners Kathy Smart and Mary Daub were carrying orders to vehicles and hoping to provide delivery by March 23. The cafe also was offering a menu of kids items that were free for the asking.

Sean Murphy said the doors were locked at 5 p.m. March 17 at his cocktail bar, The Doctor’s Office, 5312 Holmes Blvd., Holmes Beach, per DeSantis’ order.

“I’ll be moving staff from there to our other restaurants, Beach Bistro and Eat Here, for other duties,” Murphy said.

Both the bistro and Eat Here were limiting guests in the dining rooms and offering takeout and delivery from their menus, but service in the dining rooms ended with the March 20 order.

Bobby Tingler, who has owned the Anchor Inn, 3007 Gulf Drive, Holmes Drive, for 26 years, said he “absolutely” closed his doors.

“I got a $300,000 liquor license I can’t lose,” he said.

Tingler said he was helping his staff during the closure.

In Bradenton Beach, Island Time Bar and Grill and the Anna Maria Oyster Bar were taking to-go orders and Blue Marlin announced it would close.

Roque Pastorius, who owns the Island Monkey Bus, a tips-only transportation alternative, told The Islander March 18 he cut his staff due to diminished ridership. People were definitely staying put on the island, he said.

“The virus has definitely affected us in a negative way,” he said. “People would normally be here in droves. With so many cancellations, no one is around.”

Island businesses announcing closures through March include Salon Salon of AMI, the Artists’ Guild Gallery, Island Gallery West, the French Table and Tide and Moon Jewelry on the Historic Bridge Street Pier, among others.

Now, with the beaches “closed” and many folks sheltering-in-place, Publix Super Market may be the busiest spot on the island. The company changed its hours to 8 a.m.-8 p.m. and is reserving 7-8 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays for shoppers 65 and older.


Where to turn?

The Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce continued through the week of March 16 with frequent posts about business closures, disaster loans for small businesses and programs to assist with recovery.

The chamber also was posting information relevant to layoffs and unemployment due to COVID-19.

AMI chamber president Terri Kinder assured people the chamber was in for the long haul during the crisis.

“We are here in the office until we are told we can’t be,” she said March 20.

Kinder said the chamber received hundreds of calls over the past several days from both local business owners and visitors about vacation bookings — openings for people still looking for a place to wait out the crisis and cancellations due to fears of travel, as well as calls from people curious about the status of life on the island.

“We are staying fully staffed to handle the volume,” she said, adding that she recommended people get reliable information from sources they trust, such as the chamber.


COVID-19 infects ‘season’ for local groups, institutions

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Notices on the doors to the Island Library, 5701 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, inform people the building is closed. Manatee County closed its buildings in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, the new coronavirus. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

The show did not go on.

With new government guidelines and policies intended to curb the spread of COVID-19, the new coronavirus, local organizations and institutions canceled events, shuttered buildings, tightened hours and closed down, all as they were in the throws of “high season.”

The Island Players’ stage went dark March 15 after the matinee, as the remaining performances of “Leading Ladies” were canceled at the Anna Maria theater.

Museums closed — the Anna Maria Island Historical Society’s facility on Pine Avenue, as well as the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature in Bradenton, the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota and the Florida Maritime Museum in Cortez.

When Manatee County government closed buildings to the public March 18, it closed libraries, including the island branch, a destination that typically bustles with activities and patrons at this time of year.

“This is an hour-by-hour emergency event,” county administrator Cheri Coryea said of the COVID-19 response.

March 19, outside the Island Library, 5701 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, patron Debbie Granger of Anna Maria asked aloud whether she should return books.

“Certainly they won’t charge late fees,” she assumed. And she’s correct, as the library system announced automatic renewals until April 15.

Another of the island’s busy destinations, the Center of Anna Maria Island, suspended sports, group fitness, wellness programs and other activities.

Executive director Chris Culhane, in a statement referring to “unprecedented times,” said the nature of how the coronavirus spreads presented challenges for a place that exists to bring people together.

“Let’s continue to do all we can to prevent community spread,” Culhane wrote March 17 to the “AMI center community.”

To notify members, supporters and customers, local groups issued news releases, posted on social media and sent emails.

Some messages contained humor, more contained apologies and concerns.

“It’s been a rough week for a lot of folks, and the Privateers as well,” Kim “Syren” Boyd, president of the Anna Maria Island Privateers, told The Islander. The nonprofit postponed its One Night in Tortuga party at the Seafood Shack in Cortez.

To ticketholders, the Privateers stated, “It is with very heavy hearts that we announce that our upcoming event, One Night in Tortuga, has been postponed. … We did not make this decision lightly. Our mission is the reason for this decision — for kids and community.”

Will organizations rescue what might be left of season later this spring?

The Privateers plan to hold their Tortuga party May 9 and, also that month, Snooks Adams Kids Day.

And the Island Players board is monitoring the public health situation, but plans to hold rehearsals for the next show, “Death by Design.”


On the web

For The Islander’s list of cancellations, postponements and closings, go online to islander.org.

The list is updated regularly.

Islanders cast party ballots for presidential candidates

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Election deputy Amy Krueger welcomes Anna Maria voters Barbara and Tom Ehren to the polls March 17 for the Florida Presidential Preference Primary. The Ehrens were the first in their precinct to cast ballots at Roser Memorial Community Church. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff
People line up March 17 inside the activity center at St. Bernard Catholic Church in Holmes Beach. They were Holmes Beach voters casting ballots in Florida’s Presidential Preference Primaries. At island polling locations, sanitizers were provided for door handles and ballot stations as a COVID-19 precaution. And some voters appeared to maintain “social distancing.” Islander Photo: Lisa Neff
Keeping a tradition, the results of the Florida Presidential Preference Primary are posted to the door of the Bradenton Beach Fire House, where voters in precinct 307 cast ballots March 17. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

Barbara Ehren put on her surgical gloves and kept her primary obligation March 17.

Ehren was the first to the ballot box at Anna Maria’s precinct 301, casting her vote in the Florida Presidential Preference Primaries.

She arrived to the polling place at Roser Memorial Community Church, 512 Pine Ave., shortly before 7 a.m., wearing gloves as a precaution against the new coronavirus and the spread of COVID-19.

“Passion,” Ehren said brought her out on primary day.

“Democracy,” she added.

“Duty,” she continued.

“All those things.”

Second in line was husband Tom.

They were greeted by a first-time election deputy Amy Krueger, outfitted with sanitizing wipes, three beverage mugs and a beach chair.

“I’ll open the door,” Krueger told the voters, who kept their distance.

Islanders also went to the polls in Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach to find ballots and sanitizer and occasionally lines to vote.

Islandwide, their choices aligned with the state’s and, for the most part, other states, with former Vice President Joe Biden garnering the most votes on the Democratic side and President Donald J. Trump accumulating the highest numbers for the GOP side.

In Anna Maria, Democratic voters went for Biden at 67.96%, casting 124 votes for him, and 18.78% for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who received 34 votes.

Republican voters went 91.03% for Trump and the next highest vote-getter was former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who received 4.49%.

In Holmes Beach’s precinct 303, Trump received 203 votes or 91.86% and, on the Dems’ side, Biden had 120 votes or 66.67%, followed by Sanders with 16.11% or 29 votes.

In Holmes Beach’s precinct 305, Trump received 195 votes or 95.59% and, on the Democratic side, Biden had 140 votes or 71.07%, followed by Sanders at 13.2% or 26 votes.

In Bradenton Beach’s precinct 307, Trump received 102 votes or 95.33% and, on the Democratic side, Biden received 58 votes or 52.73%, followed by Sanders at 25.45% with 28 votes.

Manatee County has 70 precincts and 190,501 registered voters. With votes 69,647 votes cast, turnout was at 36.56%.

But turnout was slightly higher in three of the island’s four precincts.

With 814 eligible voters in Anna Maria, turnout was 41.305, with the highest number — 169 — casting ballots on Election Day.

In Holmes Beach’s precinct 303, which has 972 eligible voters, turnout was 40.7%. Vote by mail, with 241 ballots cast, outpaced other options.

Holmes Beach’s precinct 305 has 1,044 eligible voters and 38.8% turned out. Again, vote by mail outpaced early voting and Election Day voting, with 254 ballots sent in.

In Bradenton Beach, with 538 eligible voters, turnout was 40.3%, with 122 ballots cast by mail, 11 in early voting and 84 on Election Day.

Turnout in Manatee was higher in the 2016 presidential preference primary at 53.21% but the choices were different then, as nominations in both parties were still hotly contested.

Like Barbara Ehren, other islanders said they went to the polls March 17 because they are passionate about politics, devoted to democracy and committed to candidates.

But more than a few — keeping their distance from the reporter — said they might switch to voting by mail before the Nov. 3 general election.

Statewide, Biden received 61.94% of the vote in the Democratic contest and Trump received 93.8% of the vote in the GOP race.


Did you know?

Anna Maria’s precinct 301 has 1,055 registered voters, including 327 Democrats and 483 Republicans.

Holmes Beach’s precinct 303 has 1,278 registered voters, including 328 Democrats and 646 Republicans.

Holmes Beach’s precinct 305 has 1,451 registered voters, including 418 Democrats and 630 Republicans.

Bradenton Beach’s precinct 307 has 745 registered voters, including 226 Democrats and 308 Republicans.